China to Lift ‘Great Firewall’ on New Tropical Island to Give Tourists Access to Facebook, YouTube

New rules will give Hainan less stringent visa requirements than in the rest of China, where travellers have to apply for visas through Chinese consulates abroad, as Beijing pushes international tourism to the tropical destination
AFP

China is set to lift their “great firewall,” which blocks large sections of the Internet, on a tropical island tourist destination to give foreigners access to websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Hainan Island in China has recently revealed plans to give foreign tourists access to western social media websites, a move that is part of an attempt to turn the island located in the South of China into a free trade zone and popular tourist attraction, Business Insider reports. Hainan island, which is approximately the size of Belgium, is often referred to as the “Hawaii of the East” and has long been planned to be a new Chinese hub for foreign investment, Gambling, and tourism by the year 2020.

The island’s provincial government recently revealed a new plan on their website which states that access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter would be granted to foreigners — whether locals on the island would be able to access these services is unknown. Tourists based in the cities of Haikou and Sanya would be able to access the popular social media services. The island also plants to advertise itself as a tourism hotspot via 2,000 minutes of promotional video to be displayed by broadcasters like the BBC in England CNN in America.

The plan was removed from the island’s website within a day, whether or not this means that the plan is going ahead is unclear, but the lifting of the “great Chinese firewall” would be quite a surprise for the Chinese government which has spent some time blocking western sites from the country over worries that they could be used to spread critical information and opinions of the Chinese government.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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